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MN County Overestimates Property Assessments by $133 Million

When some say government should be run more like a business, it's safe to assume they don't mean Enron. But that sort of excess comes to mind when hearing about the over-the-top property valuations St. Louis County tax assessors tried to get by with earlier this year. The Duluth News Tribune continues to expose the embarrassing financial fallout. Property owners in downtown Duluth were thunderstruck when they opened statements from the St. Louis County Assessor's Office a couple months ago only to discover the estimated market value of their buildings had soared. Many of the increases were met with incredulity. For instance, the assessor's...

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Ex-Contracter Slams State Government Incompetence

The Dayton administration wants Minnesotans to believe that throwing millions more taxpayer dollars at the failed new $93 million MNLARS state vehicle and registration system would solve everything. But a former MN.IT employee writing in the Star Tribune warns some things about state government never change. More than 20 years ago, I was recruited to a state agency to lead the development of a pilot project within the Minnesota’s IT Support Services division. This is the same division responsible for the $93 million Minnesota Licensing and Registration System (MNLARS) fiasco. I left five years later exasperated with the inefficiencies and mismanagement...

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A Year Later Vehicle Registration System Still in Meltdown Mode

A quick check of vanity license plates registered in Minnesota reveals that "INEPT" is still available for Gov. Mark Dayton's official vehicle in recognition of his administration's role in causing the epic breakdown of the state's vehicle registration system (MNLARS). You may recall that the wildly defective new Minnesota Licensing and Registration System rolled out a year ago to widespread frustration and ridicule among customers and registrars over technical malfunctions. It didn't help that the system was years overdue and tens of millions of dollars over budget. The latest episode of the MNLARS meltdown unfolds in St. Louis County with the Duluth News...

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American Experiment comments on PELSB’s attempt to redefine “cultural competency”

Minnesota’s Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board is writing rules to implement the state’s 2017 teacher licensing law. In the process, the board is trying to smuggle in an extremist definition of “cultural competency” training, which would shape teacher training for licensed teachers in both public schools and private schools. Through this backhanded maneuver, the board is essentially attempting to replace the far more limited (and reasonable) definition of “cultural competency” that is already in law....

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Residents Petition to Reinstate Cancelled 2019 Local Elections

The Twin Cities was introduced to the bizarre world of New Brighton politics when Mayor Valerie Johnson went on a blistering rant in a video that racked up 150,000 views a few months ago.  My colleague John Hinderaker posted on Johnson's tirade in "Meltdown in New Brighton Over White Privilege." https://youtu.be/_k8PahVTNJg Now Johnson and the New Brighton City Council confront a new controversy of their own making. Shortly after the 2017 election, they voted 4 to 1 to unilaterally cancel the suburb's scheduled 2019 local elections in order to switch to even year elections. But in the process the mayor and city council...

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Trump Takes Steps to Drain the Swamp

What does it really mean to drain the swamp that consists of two million bureaucrats nationwide? We may find out, following a series of aggressive steps announced by President Trump to curtail wasteful practices long tolerated in the federal workforce. The Washington Post puts it this way. President Trump moved Friday to roll back civil-service protections that federal employees have enjoyed for a generation, making it easier to fire poor performers, curtailing time employees can be paid for union work and directing agencies to negotiate tougher union contracts. In three executive orders the president signed before the holiday weekend, Trump took his first...

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County Blinks Over Duluth Tax Assessments

St. Louis County Assessor Dave Sipila and his team went big this year, jacking up the assessed market valuations on scores of mostly commercial properties in Duluth essentially overnight. But his numbers were so far over the top that the long-time county taxman touched off a backlash among businesses that prefer to maintain a low profile but decided to fight back instead. [caption id="attachment_10714" align="aligncenter" width="149"] Dave SipilaSt. Louis Co. Assessor[/caption] Here's one example we wrote about that's been designated as the "poster child"  for just how far off the mark the county tax assessors turned out to be. The valuation of one building sold...

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Letter to GOP Leadership: No Pre-K Expansion; Preserving the K-12 Mission

Dayton is campaigning hard for $138 million “emergency” school funding but he might just settle for more pre-K funding instead. The governor has, in the past, successfully expanded pre-K programs in exchange for getting GOP K-12 education or other priorities passed. We understand that, like children who do not get their way, Gov. Dayton holds his breath until he turns blue, but for the sake of our small children, and the K-12 mission, please deny him this final victory. ...

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Five Years Later, Citizen Watchdogs Get Their Day at MN Supreme Court

Five years after a group of watchdog citizens first challenged the status quo at Victoria City Hall, their bid to hold local elected officials accountable under the Minnesota Open Meeting Law will culminate before the state's highest court on Monday. The Star Tribune says the citizens' determination to persuade the justices to put some teeth into the Open Meeting Law continues to make waves in the fast-growing western Twin Cities suburb. An intense political and legal feud is dividing the city of Victoria, where city officials have spent nearly $500,000 to defend against a 2016 open meeting lawsuit — a case now...

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